Wednesday, May 10, 2017

O'Neil-Rosales v. Citibank (Cal. Ct. App. - May 10, 2017)

No Ninth Circuit opinions today, and only one Court of Appeal opinion.

Fortunately, you can get the gist of today's opinion merely by quoting one of its footnotes:

"Plaintiff argued below, and continues to argue on appeal, that Rouse v. Law Offices of Rory Clark (S.D.Cal. 2006) 465 F.Supp.2d 1031 (Rouse) compels a different result—i.e., that “the recording of a lien against property based on a default judgment tendered to the County Recorder’s Office is a ministerial function falling outside the ‘any other official proceeding authorized by law’ contemplated in Section 425.16(e).” (Id. at p. 1038.) But, while the act by a county recorder of recording a properly tendered abstract of judgment would appear to be a ministerial function, it is less clear that the act by a judgment creditor of tendering the abstract to the county recorder’s office could be considered ministerial. In any case, we are not bound to follow Rouse (see Howard Contracting v. G.A. MacDonald Const. Co. (1998) 71 Cal.App.4th 38, 52 [federal decisions neither binding nor controlling on matters of state law]), but are bound to follow Rusheen v. Cohen, supra, 37 Cal.4th 1048 (see Auto Equity Sales, Inc. v. Superior Court (1962) 57 Cal.2d 450, 455-456 [decisions of the California Supreme Court are binding upon and must be followed by all the state courts of California].)."

Yeah.  That about summarizes it.  It's a lien -- or what appears to be a lien, anyway -- that arguably is abusive.  But it's connected in some way with the result of a prior litigation, so an anti-SLAPP motion can be filed and, as here, result in a dismissal and attorney fee award.

There you have it.

(It's actually a neat little trick.  Get a judgment against Person X.  File a lien against Person X with respect to a Piece of Property that Person X used to own -- but hasn't owned for years -- and that is instead owned by Person Y.  When Person Y seeks to refinance her loan on the Property, the lender may well require Person Y to pay off the lien -- even though it's not against her -- or file a lawsuit to declare the lien invalid.  Filing a lawsuit may well be even more expensive than paying the lien (say, one for $2,000 or so, like here).  So Person Y ends up paying the judgment even though it's not one against her.  Abusive.  But successful, apparently.  Especially if Person Y can't sue the person who filed the lien without both losing on the merits as well as having to pay the other side's fees.  Neat.)